Examiner Gives Rudy the Treatment
Today, the Washington Examiner's Bill Sammon continues his "Meet the Next President" series with Rudy Giuliani. The piece begins strong, an example that the social right's paradoxical support for Rudy is becoming ingrained into the conventional wisdom, but goes downhill from there.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani — at least on paper — is precisely the sort of candidate that most conservatives would vote against in a GOP presidential primary.
And yet in person, Giuliani is a living reminder of the powerful leadership he displayed in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. That leadership has translated into enormous credibility on the all-important issue of national security, which Giuliani hopes will assuage conservatives who disagree with his positions on social issues.
The rest of the piece effectively functions as an oppo dump, with the worst tidbits of Rudy's past social libertarianism. I encourage one and all to read it to get a sense of the stuff that's going to be thrown at us in the next year and a half.
The reporter was apparently upset that Giuliani's spokesperson didn't return his calls. That's not innuendo. That's actually in the article.
But to get a sense of just how stale and unoriginal the conventional wisdom is, you have to read the experts' takes...
Des Moines Register
PRO » “When he has been here, he’s been well received — he’s a rock star. He shows well in the polls.”
CON » “He’s too liberal on social issues. I mean, I just think the Republican Party is a pro-life party, anti-gay rights party. And I think that will really hurt Giuliani in the final analysis.”
Cook Political Report
PRO » “The potency of the imagery from 9/11 is very, very strong.”
CON » “I think the social, cultural issues would just cut him up in primaries and caucuses.”
Political scientist, University of Virginia
PRO » “America’s Mayor‚ will always be associated with his actions on September 11, which were seen by most as strong and decisive. Terrorism is his issue and it provides cover for more liberal positions on social issues.”
CON » “But those issues — pro-choice on abortion, pro-gay rights and so on — are poison for a large majority of conservative GOP primary and caucus participants.”
They all say the same thing. Pro: 9/11. Con: Social issues. Yawn. I could have told you that. It just goes to show you just how little these analysts have thought through the implications of a Giuliani candidacy.
After 9/11, the Republican Party is first and foremost the party of national security. To suggest that social issues are ultimately more important than national security in the Republican Party strikes me as very dated. In 2000, undoubtedly. And for the hardcore/Freeper/Tancredoite faction, sure. But the dirty little secret here is that these litmus test social conservatives probably represent about 30% of the party -- the same noisy Alan Keyes/Gary Bauer Republicans who never voted for George W. Bush. Republicans won the last two elections on national security, and if they pull the rabbit out of the hat this time, make that three in a row.
Don't get me wrong. Religiously active voters are probably the lion's share of Republicans. But not all of them are litmus test voters, and the non-litmus test voters are the ones who are quite open to a candidate with so many other strengths like Rudy. And that's not counting the economic/national security conservatives Rudy could do very well with.